Caring for a senior with Alzheimer's is an enormous challenge, especially when sundowning becomes a common occurrence. If you're a family member or hired caregiver, it's essential to learn how to incorporate sundowning effects into your schedule. In this blog post, we'll provide a guide for understanding and proactively preparing for sundowning periods, making your caregiving experience simpler and more rewarding for both you and your loved one.
Understanding Sundowning Triggers
To effectively manage sundowning effects, it's important to identify the factors that may contribute to these episodes. Common triggers for sundowning include fatigue, hunger, low lighting, and overstimulation. By keeping these triggers in mind, you can create a caregiving plan that minimizes their impact and helps to prevent sundowning.
Create a Routine and Calming Environment '
One of the keys to reducing the impact of sundowning is to maintain a consistent daily routine for the senior in your care. This helps provide a sense of familiarity and security, which can alleviate feelings of confusion and anxiety that often accompany sundowning.
Ensuring that the senior gets regular rest and naps throughout the day. This can help to prevent fatigue from building up, which can exacerbate evening agitation.
Proper nutrition and hydration play a significant role in maintaining overall health and can contribute to reducing sundowning symptoms. Encourage the senior to eat regular, balanced meals and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Creating a calm and quiet atmosphere in the evening can also be beneficial for those experiencing sundowning. Minimize loud noises and stimulating activities as the day progresses, and consider using nightlights and soft lighting to reduce shadows, which can be particularly unsettling for individuals with Alzheimer's.
Engaging Activities to Reduce Sundowning Effects
Encouraging physical activity during the day can help to expend excess energy and reduce the likelihood of evening agitation. Examples of suitable activities include walking, dancing, or gentle exercise classes tailored to seniors. Always consult with the senior's physician before introducing new physical activities.
In the evening, provide calming activities to occupy the senior's mind and facilitate relaxation. Examples include puzzles, coloring books, listening to soothing music, or engaging in deep breathing exercises.
During moments of confusion or agitation, it's important to offer reassurance and validation. Acknowledge the senior's feelings and emotions, and let them know that their concerns are being heard.
If the senior becomes agitated during sundowning, consider redirecting their attention with a change of scenery or activity. A gentle walk or relocating to a different room can help to refocus their attention and alleviate distress.
How to Respond When Sundowning Occurs
When caring for someone with sundowning, it's essential to remain calm and patient. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and imagine how you would react if you experienced disorientation, confusion, and anxiety.
When communicating with the senior during sundowning episodes, use simple, clear language. Speak slowly and calmly, and avoid using complex sentences that may be challenging for them to understand.
Offer comfort and reassurance to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and agitation. Be mindful of your body language and tone of voice, as these can convey a sense of calm and safety to the person in your care.
Don't hesitate to involve other family members or caregivers for support, as providing care for someone with sundowning can be physically and emotionally demanding.
Seek Professional Help
Recognize when you may need additional support, and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance and recommendations. They can provide valuable insights and suggest appropriate interventions to help manage sundowning.
Explore options for in-home care or respite care services, which can provide much-needed relief for caregivers and ensure that the senior receives the best possible care during sundowning episodes.
Senior Helpers Has Sundowning Expertise
If you live in Pasco/Pinellas, New Port Richey, Land O' Lakes, Hudson, Wesley Chapel, Trinity, Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, or Oldsmar and need assistance with caregiving for a senior with Alzheimer's or dementia, contact us at Senior Helpers West Pasco for professional support and services.